Fifteenth E. coli Lawsuit Filed Against Sizzler


MILWAUKEE, WI -- A federal lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of Gabrielle Cetta and John Cetta, Jr., children of John Cetta, who were infected with E. coli O157:H7 during the July 2000 outbreak linked to a Milwaukee-area Sizzler restaurant. The Cettas are residents of New York State. The defendants named in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, are Sizzler USA and E & B Management.

In July 2000, Gabrielle and John Jr., along with their older brother and mother, visited family in Milwaukee. On July 16, 2000, they stopped for dinner at the Sizzler restaurant at 789 Layton Avenue. Several days later, after the Cettas returned to New York, both Gabrielle and John Jr. became sick. Gabrielle bore the brunt of the illness: “She was hospitalized for eighteen days and incurred over $70,000 in medical bills. She was one of the most severely injured individuals in this outbreak,” said William Marler, the Cetta’s attorney, and managing partner of the Seattle, Washington-based law firm, Marler Clark. “Gabrielle suffered hemolytic-uremic syndrome (“HUS”), hemorrhagic colitis (an infection of the large intestine), rectal prolapse (protrusion of the rectum from the anus), and kidney failure all as a direct result of her E. coli O157:H7 infection,” added Michael Hanrahan, of the Milwaukee law firm of Fox, O’Neil and Shannon.

According to various medical experts, Gabriella sustained severe, and likely irreversible injuries, as a direct result of the HUS that developed secondary to her E. coli 0157:H7 infection. Of primary concern to her providers is that Gabrielle’s kidneys have not resumed normal function since her release from the hospital a year ago. If this condition persists, it increases the likelihood that she will require a kidney transplant at some point in the future.

The complaint adds a claim for punitive damages against Sizzler USA. “We’re asking for punitive damages because this isn’t the first time that Sizzler USA had E. coli problems related to cross-contamination from in-store meat preparation. The July 2000 outbreak was caused by the same sloppy procedures that resulted in the 1993 incident. Obviously, Sizzler didn’t learn anything, and it may now be up to a jury to teach the company a lesson,” said Marler.

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Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of food-borne illness. The firm’s attorneys are currently lead counsel in actions related to E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and hepatitis-A outbreaks in several states.

More about the Sizzler E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.